At the recent Apple conference where the latest iPhone 6 and 6 plus were announced, one of the stories that slipped under the radar slightly was Apple’s launch of the NFC payment system Apple Pay, supposedly the future of retail technology and in their words ‘Your Wallet, without the wallet’.

At the time I thought that this would change the outlook of retail technology, impacting the way people shop forever. Not because it was anything new, after all we’ve been well aware of NFC for several years and its role within the retail environment, we’ve even seen the launch of Google wallet which has a similar function, but more so because Apple finally have their mits on it.

The power of the brand

Invariably when Apple get involved, things start to move forward at a quicker speed. Take the iPad for example – the idea of a tablet computer wasn’t revolutionary, they’d been around for years prior, but when Apple launched their first product the market took off and created a demand for tablets that no one had seen before.

This week, several high profile U.S. retailers have decided to refuse to accept Apple Pay at their stores. Companies such as Walmart, Target, Kohl’s Corp and Best Buy have all declined the new electronic payment service and have instead decided to commit to joining a consortium of other large retailers that are developing a rival payment system.

CurrentC is this rival payment system. It’s currently being trialed at several private locations across the U.S. and has the advantage that it’s able to operate on both iOS and Android. But this week’s testing has been a disaster for CurrentC, news has emerged that it won’t accept credit cards, only debit cards and that it also isn’t as secure as Apple Pay. CurrentC uses an old QR code system whilst Apple uses TouchID fingerprint technology to authorize payments.

To further compound a disastrous week news has emerged that the system has already been hacked, before it’s even been officially launched. So the likelihood of ever seeing this system rolled out internationally now is slim, and its position at the forefront of retail technology has been jeopardized.

Apple Pay is the most consumer friendly mobile payment system we’ve seen yet, but it’s not perfect by any means. It’s great if you happen to have a new iPhone but if you’re one of the 500 million people with an older iPhone, you’re out of luck. And if you happen to own an Android phone it’s not working for you either.

At the moment we seem to be stuck in a situation where neither system is likely to push the technology into part of our everyday use.

Maybe it’s time to revisit Google Wallet.

Mark Griffiths